A mum who suffered a ‘catastrophic’ death just hours after having a stillborn baby was killed by an unknown infection.
Julie Ellison, 31, from Longridge, died in Royal Preston Hospital in December 2010 after she developed septicaemia, an inquest in Preston heard.
But doctors told the inquest that they could find no evidence that her initial flu-like symptoms were down to swine flu, which was sweeping the country at the time.
Julie’s partner, Tom Howe, told the court that she was admitted to hospital when she was 38 weeks pregnant after complaining of a sore throat and severe chills.
He said: “She felt very poorly, like she had flu, and said her lungs felt bruised.
“Two days later the doctors decided to deliver the baby and Julie texted to let me know.
“When I got to the hospital 45 minutes later the baby had died and Julie was very ill and weak.
“I was in the room when she was induced and she seemed to get weaker and weaker as the day went on.
“At 9.30pm there was a rush of doctors and panic and they moved her to theatre.”
Dr Emyr Benbow, a specialist in maternal death at Manchester University, said that on the balance of probability Ms Ellison had died due to general sepsis.
However, he had not been able to find the source of the infection.
He said: “This is not unusual. It happens in about 40 per cent of cases of sepsis.”
But following evidence from Dr David Orr, a consultant microbiologist at Royal Preston, Dr Benbow said he might consider modifying his conclusion.
Dr Orr said that Ms Ellison, who used to work at BAE, suffered from a rare ongoing muscle condition called malignant hyperpyrexia, which he thought might have played a part in her death.
He said: “There were some variables that I thought were unexplained by a diagnosis of sepsis.
“There was, for example, a dramatic decline in her condition towards the end, but with sepsis you would expect progressive multi-organ failure.
“Her death was catastrophic at the end, with cardiac arrest.”
Ms Ellison’s sister, Catherine Garnett, broke down as she told the inquest how she had visited the hospital on the day of her death. She said: “Her lips and nose were swollen like she had had botox.
“I stayed with her. I didn’t want to leave her. I rang my mum and said ‘She’s not going to make it’.”
Hilda Bleasedale, Ms Ellison’s mother, was also clearly distressed as she told how her daughter showed a marked deterioration over the course of just a few hours.
She said: “I left to take my son home and when I returned I could sense a complete change in the situation. I could see panic in her eyes.
“It was then I realised it was a dire situation.”